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Looking for great bread in Vancouver

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I recently moved from Victoria to Vancouver and I'm looking for a great bakery here. Specifically looking for bread made with natural yeast and cooked in a wood fired oven. Dense, chewy bread that needs nothing on it but maybe a bit of butter.

Victoria has Wild Fire and Fol Epi (two exceptional bakeries) and Comox has Church Street Woodfired Bakery but I can't find anything like these bakeries in Vancouver.

People have suggested Terra Breads but I tried their bread and it's mealy without character.

Any suggestions?

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  1. Nothing wood fired of note now in the city-try Romanian Country Bread in Steveston Village.

    http://www.yelp.ca/biz/romania-countr...

    3 Replies
    1. re: Sam Salmon

      Be prepared for sticker shock at Romanian - $10/loaf. A ten dollar loaf of bread better blow me away (it didn't ) but the wood oven is impressive to look at. My favorite bread these days is homemade - checkout the "It's just food" website - try the no-knead bread - sounds right up your alley and it's ridiculously easy.

      1. re: Sam Salmon

        2 words for the Romanian bakery;
        Yuck! Expensive!

        Not wood fired- but for crusty/chewy breads,
        Fieldstone Artisan Breads ( White Rock) have a to-die-for piccolo.
        Terra on Granville Island is always great.
        Cobs(everywhere) has some nice stuff.

        Other than that..try a (new) ceramic kiln shelf, put it on the BBQ & have yourself a 500+ degree oven ( works for me)

        1. re: gnashingshitfactory

          I have been baking bread in my BBQ for a while now using fire bricks (normally used in wood stoves). Cheap, indestructible and the bread has an amazing crust.

      2. I envy Victoria's bread. You won't find anything in the league of Fol Epi here.

        1. Not sure if it will be up to your standards, and it's not wood-fired AFAIK, but I like the bread from Manzano in Metrotown. Worth a shot...better than Terra I think, anyways.

          1. I recommend Swiss Bakery. I love the taste of their organic baguettes. I buy them par-baked and freeze them until I need them, then just defrost them and finish them off in the oven on my baking stone. Tangy, flavourful, aromatic crumb and great crust.

            -----
            Swiss Bakery
            143 E 3rd Ave, Vancouver, BC V5T, CA

            1. No longer wood fired but still my favourite bread in Vancouver is the chewy, hearty and very satisfying peasant bread from Transilvania bakery, now @ Beyond Bread, 4th near Alma
              http://beyondbread.ca/

              1. For those who are fans, word has it that A Bread Affair is going into Granville Island in the next while.
                (Wonder how long they had to work at the name to get the letters closest to the top of the alphabetical listings :)

                3 Replies
                1. re: eatrustic

                  This is News!!!

                  I Love their products-I wonder where the store will be-not in the market I imagine.

                  1. re: eatrustic

                    That would be great news. We're currently enjoying a loaf of their Pemberton Potato and Leek bread that I picked up at the Kits Farmers Market this morning. Yummy!

                    1. re: eatrustic

                      Is that still a thing? I haven't looked at the White Pages in over 12 years.

                    2. I like La Baguette et L'Echalote on Granville Island.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: LotusRapper

                        This is going to make me seem like a real snob but I find their bread on par with Wonderbread. Buy a baguette from La Baguette and one from Beyond Bread (the best baguette I've found so far?) and try them side by side. Tear, cut, plain, buttered, toasted, not toasted. Let me know what you think.

                        1. re: marko65

                          I buy one very good thing from La Baguette: their potato buns (they come in mini, hot dog or hamburger size). Perfect vehicles for dogs/sausages and burgs.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            I'll give them a try. I've been using ciabatta buns from Whole Foods as hamburger buns.

                            1. re: marko65

                              Oh do, and let us know what you think. I am really sold on them, excellent structural integrity! Be sure to call ahead and book a half dozen though as they tend to sell out (or at least they did in the summer). They also freeze rather well which is a bonus.

                              1. re: marko65

                                If I remember right, those ciabatta buns at WFM come from Pane E Formaggio. At least, the ones in West Van...

                                The La Baguette Potato Buns are incredible. I'm indebted to Zach @ Beer Brats for introducing me to those.

                                -----
                                Pane E Formaggio
                                4532 10th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6R2J1, CA

                                1. re: thatwhileifound

                                  Nice one! I've only bought the brats to take home, didn't know he used the spud buns.

                                  1. re: thatwhileifound

                                    Speaking of potato buns, Strawberry Bakery (?) in the Il Mercato Mall on Commercial/1st Ave has pretty good potato buns and portuguese buns.

                          2. Swiss Bakery 143 East 3rd Avenue (off Main Street)

                            -----
                            Swiss Bakery
                            143 E 3rd Ave, Vancouver, BC V5T, CA

                            Main Street Cafe
                            317 MacKenzie, Revelstoke, BC V0E2S1, CA

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: 123

                              Stopped into Benny's in Strathcona yesterday, they make a great value deli sandwich to order on what looks like a Portuguese style bun and when I asked they said they came from Swiss bakery and are called Swiss Buns.
                              They sell them as well and there's a choice of white or whole wheat. Both are excellent (especially the whole wheat, which is often not that great).
                              Two buns for 96 cents is an outstanding value for a large, quality bun! No idea what they sell for at Swiss Bakery but they get my vote for best all round bun in the city (the potato bun from La Baguette is excellent but more specialized).

                              -----
                              Swiss Bakery
                              143 E 3rd Ave, Vancouver, BC V5T, CA

                              1. re: eatrustic

                                Well that's it-somebody spilled the beans about the Swiss Buns from Benny's-I knew it was too good to last.

                                Danged internet!

                                1. re: Sam Salmon

                                  Nice tip! I routinely pick up cheese and cranberry (separately, not together!) scones from Swiss Bakery on Third for our morning snacks. I will deffo check to see if they have the Swiss buns next time.

                                  Totally agree about the potato buns, much as I love them. They are for me at least single purpose for bbq'd snausages or burgs.

                                  -----
                                  Swiss Bakery
                                  143 E 3rd Ave, Vancouver, BC V5T, CA

                            2. My favorite breads are from the Farmers' Markets. Rise Artisan makes a terrific levain and a number of other great breads. Purebread from Whistler make the trip down every once in awhile and their breads are tasty too.

                              Unfortunately the above two aren't wood fired. Pretty tough to get approval for a wood oven these days unfortunately. Wish there were more bakeries like Fol Epi around.

                              1. I have heard good things about a place called Mix on 10th near UBC

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: brokentelephone

                                  Sorry in advance for the bad pun but I've had very mixed results with the product from Mix-outstanding once and almost inedible the next-Staff are apathetic at best.

                                  Six months later the same thing happened.

                                  1. re: Sam Salmon

                                    I've had good luck with their hummingbird loaf.

                                    1. re: grayelf

                                      My pops swears by their baguette.

                                2. Speaking of Victoria - the bread at the James Bay Saturday market looked amazing and had an incredibly long lineup. Must be good!

                                  Not dense/chewy as you describe, but a trip to Afra Bakery on Pemberton in North Vancouver is worthwhile - in the back of the crowded grocery store is a stone bed gas fired oven that they bake persian flat bread on. It's fun to watch the guy make it. Then, you can grab the bread fresh after it comes out of the oven. It gets eaten in the car on the way home with a tub of their humous (in the fridge at the back) or garlicky yogurt spreads in the display case near the front by the olives. Also - the yogurt (in normal or large tubs in the fridge in the back) is the best I've ever had and quite affordable.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: kluv2cruz

                                    I'll give Afra a try. Thanks

                                    Sounds like you had Frys Red Wheat Bread

                                    1. re: marko65

                                      Frys Red Wheat Bread - you mean at James Bay Market? It was BEAUTIFUL and I regret not taking a picture. I was in Victoria on a cruise ship and went straight to the market to pick up some flowers (amazingly beautiful & reasonable, almost like Pike Place) - anyway, saw the bread, saw the lineup, wanted to take a pic but really couldn't get in close with all the people. A couple of hours later I went back and no lineup because all the bread was gone! Had a great talk with the seller. Another time perhaps.

                                    2. re: kluv2cruz

                                      Afra's sangkak bread is is amazing and I do the exact same thing but instead of the tub of humous buy a tub of yogurt with shallots...

                                    3. Not that this helps, exactly, but I was just in Tofino and tried an outstanding sourdough spelt kamut loaf from 600 Degrees Bakery (http://600degrees.ca/). The baker herself was dropping off a still-warm order at Beaches and although my friends and I had plenty of bread already, these loaves were clearly not to be missed. Definitely the best bread I've had in ages: hand-shaped, locally milled top-quality flour, wood-fired, wild leavened...

                                      Seems odd that wood-fired pizza joints are now chock-a-block and equivalent bakeries are yet to catch up. Attention pizza purveyors: how about some loaves for those jonesing after a little char?

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Le Beep

                                        Love her bread which she bakes in an Alan Scott (RIP) oven. I recall she apprenticed under him to learn how to build that style of brick oven. That's dedication to the craft.

                                        1. re: fmed

                                          FWIW Faubourg up in Kerrisdale does an outstanding Baguette and their other products are equally as good.

                                          http://www.faubourg.com/

                                        2. re: Le Beep

                                          I've wondered the same thing. But, while it's not a bakery, Pizzeria Farina does sell little mini loaves of bread made from last night leftover dough. It's outstanding!

                                        3. I think Terra breads can be described as many things but no matter how much I think about this comment (it has been 4 months), I would never describe the crumb to be mealy. I can't help but to think you may have mixed up Terra Breads with La Baguette or Stuart's on Granville Island or worse yet Cob's in Kits.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: lunchslut

                                            It was Terra Breads. May have been a particular loaf. Not as bad as La Baguette. :-)

                                            Have you had a chance to try Wild Fire or Fol Epi? They really set the standard for me.

                                            1. re: marko65

                                              I'll have to try them next time I am over the strait. (I will hold back the speech on how taste is subjective and one man's Wonderbread is another man's Fol Epi)

                                              Just one suggestion. Stay away from bread at T&T.

                                              1. re: lunchslut

                                                Anyone who is serious about good bread has to put a place where the owner/baker built his own oven - a world class one- designed and built his own flour mill and mills almost all his flour onsite using organic grains and then bakes a range of excellent breads- right at the top of anyone's list of best small North American artisan bakeries.

                                                Fol Epis is that good (Wild Fire is his old bakery). He will also will start making a killer authentic Panettone any day now.... Lucky Victoria.

                                                1. re: eatrustic

                                                  Fol Epi is in a different league. Nothing in Vancouver comes close. The panettone sounds great. I wonder if we can petition him to make a stollen.

                                                  1. re: fmed

                                                    "I wonder if we can petition him to make a stollen."

                                                    He does, and although it's kind of wholegrain-like it is delish. One of my favourites last year.

                                                    1. re: eatrustic

                                                      Woot! (I do now recall you mentioned that to me last year.)

                                                2. re: lunchslut

                                                  Haha. I hear you, I think you'll be really impressed with their breads. Baking there is fantastic as well.

                                                  1. re: marko65

                                                    The Best Bread is made from Wheat grown in the baker's front yard fertlised by droppings from his organically raised Chickens-anything less is underwhelming.

                                                    Further demerits for a wood fired oven that uses anything less than hand gathered driftwood as fuel.

                                                    ymmv.

                                                    1. re: Sam Salmon

                                                      Exactly!
                                                      Still looking.

                                            2. Didn't see it listed so my vote for Le Beau Patisserie my fave baugette n only two bucks not wood fired but pretty d@#m fine try their blueberry rice pies as well

                                              1. Siegels bagels on cornwall is wood fired but bagels only

                                                1. So sad: Beyond Bread is no more. No more Transylvanian peasant bread :-(

                                                  13 Replies
                                                  1. re: kinnickinnik

                                                    What?

                                                    I was there Saturday there was no hint of impending doom.

                                                    If this is true there was some serious mismanagement-the place was Sold Out more often than not.

                                                    1. re: Sam Salmon

                                                      My SO went to get bread today and found it closed with a brief note thanking customers for the past 7 years of patronage.

                                                      I'm signed up for the bread making class he's giving at UBC farm in a couple of weeks - I'll get the scoop there I hope. Really bummed about this. I make my own bread mostly but when I want a break from mine (not bad but with a home oven, crust is lacking), the peasant bread was my go-to.

                                                      1. re: kinnickinnik

                                                        Desperate for Good News I phoned A Bread Affair and asked about their proposed Granville Island opening.

                                                        The person I spoke was adamant that it's still on but dates have been pushed back to sometime this spring-so the carb deprived have something to look forward to.

                                                        http://abreadaffair.com/

                                                        1. re: Sam Salmon

                                                          For my money A Bread Affair is okay, nothing more. Nice to see a bakery at Granville Island though.

                                                          1. re: Sam Salmon

                                                            Is this still happening? Seems pretty unlikely 9 months later.

                                                            1. re: Anne M

                                                              I guess not they had some organisational changes/moved the main operation so the GI move never materialised.

                                                          2. re: kinnickinnik

                                                            So, in the "Faint Hope" category the sign on the door of Beyond Bread now says " closed for renovations -reopening Feb. 1".

                                                            My take is that they have new ownership as a peek through the papered-up window shows everything in place despite the "thanks for 7 years" note of a week or so ago and there isn't one of the dreaded bank seizure notices on the door.

                                                            In the meantime walk across the street to La Ghianda and buy one of their excellent Ciabattas for 4 bucks.

                                                            1. re: eatrustic

                                                              La Baguette & Co 3273 W. Broadway has a decent selection of Baguettes- I'm starting to like them more and more.

                                                              http://www.baguetteandco.ca/

                                                            2. re: kinnickinnik

                                                              Beyond Bread is open again.

                                                              1. re: clutterer

                                                                Thanks for that must try to stop by tomorrow.

                                                                OTOH that place was always running out of everything before I got there and it's going to be an uphill battle for someone re-entering the marketplace after an unexplained glitch

                                                                I've largely switched my allegiance to Baguette & Co-a large variety of outstanding products coupled with warm friendly service make them a winner.

                                                                http://www.baguetteandco.ca/

                                                                1. re: Sam Salmon

                                                                  Speaking of Baguette and Co, I believe they are now supplying snacks (though not bread) to Kafka's.

                                                          3. re: kinnickinnik

                                                            Turns out he's re-opening in Feb!
                                                            http://beyondbread.ca/Beyond_Bread/co...

                                                            The workshop at UBC farm with him was excellent - I've been baking my own bread for years but his lesson made me reconsider some of my methods. I'll put what he taught us into practice.

                                                            As for the closing - it's nothing to do with mismanagement but as he ponders his next steps, enjoy the return of Transylvanian peasant bread (and his wonderful baguettes) while you can.

                                                            1. re: kinnickinnik

                                                              Coincidentally, Byron from Fry's Red Wheat Bread in Victoria taught Florin how to make those baguettes when he first opened Beyond Bread! The bread world is pretty small. Byron just opened his brick and mortar bakery on Craigflower rd in Victoria.

                                                          4. Not wood fired but dense and chewy just the same, Breka on 49th and Fraser has a large selection
                                                            of sourdoughs and ryes from San Fran whites to pumpernickel dark. Also a large strudel, cake pastry and killer old style doughnut section. Latino Market on 13th and Commercial has top notch homemade Portugese bread, thick crust and dense middles, a good 2 pounder and great with butter. The corn bread is also top notch.

                                                            1. Buns at Sciué Italian Bakery Caffé are tasty.

                                                              1. Hey there fans of Beyond Bread (Transylvanian bakery) - if you're also a home baker here's some news:

                                                                Florin is once again offering his bread workshop at UBC farm:

                                                                Knead to know: The basics of baking delicious bread at home

                                                                Flour up your hands and get ready to rise into the world of bread. Artisan baker Florin Moldovan will describe the science behind the perfect loaf, the grains that form it and some of the cultural lore of baking bread. This beginner workshop will provide participants with the techniques needed to make excellent loaves at home using readily available ingredients.
                                                                Date: Wednesday, March 21st, 6-9pm
                                                                Cost: $30 (+ $1.74 registration fee). Materials included.
                                                                To register and for more information: http://knead-to-know.eventbrite.ca/

                                                                I attended his class earlier this year and learned a bunch even though I've been making my own bread for many years. Good fun too! If you're interested, hurry - it'll fill up in a flash!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: kinnickinnik

                                                                  I just tried to register and it's waitlisted already! Fingers crossed that someone drops out...